Once upon a time my understanding of the definition of Qoya was Queen.  And Queen meaning a female manifestation of higher consciousness.  Then, on my most recent trip to Peru, I stumbled upon Qoya tombs and they weren't just for these Queens I had imagined in times of old.  My tour guide told me the Qoya people were a CIVILIZATION of people- not just women, also including men and children. This revelation of a bigger meaning for the word Qoya was happening simultaneously as four Norwegian graduate students appeared to help create Qoya Kids. During this same time, I was invited to teach at Omega they asked me to teach a class for men.  Qoya for kids? Qoya for men? Always devoted to dancing with life as it shows up, Qoya is expanding.  We (the Norwegians in the photo to the left , along with Qoya dancer and amazing mom Deb Javerbaum and I) headed out to Shelter Island to sit around a table and compile research and our experience to brainstorm how would Qoya look for children. Then we rallied a bunch of human beings under the age of 13 together and started to dance. Turns out, they love it.  We shot and edited a couple videos, drew illustrations and are refining text for an easy one page print out for teachers, parents/caretakers and/or kids to use and more.  We're also planning a Qoya Kids teacher training in NYC in July.  Join our mailing list to find out more.

And then...for the first time ever, we had Qoya classes for men at Omega! I decided I would teach the same class I teach for women, with some different music choices and a few less hip circles. The men were super sweet, receptive, great dancers and one of them asked to be the first Qoya for men teacher! I asked  for their feedback after class.  Here's what I got-

"One of the things I became aware of early on in the class was that I was not learning something new or the form of Qoya, but what Qoya was teaching me was to clear away the barriers that obscured the knowledge that I innately have, that I know how to move my body.  The Qoya class taught me to let go of the idea that would make me think that I don't know these things."

He got it! Qoya is not about  learning of form of what it is supposed to "loos" like.  It is about looking for the place in each individual person, in each individual moment, that "feels" good and sensing and valuing the pleasurable sensation of moving your body to let that guide you. It is about shifting our focus from searching for external validation- either by corrections or praise- and move to a sense of inner validation, where the fact that it feels good, is a good enough to do it.

Many of the men spoke about not having a movement practice that resonated with them. Most of them said they didn't care for  yoga. At first I was surprised, but then realized that about 80% (or more) of every yoga class I go to is all women. They spoke about not really being into the gym culture either and that they too were longing for something where they could express themselves through their body.  For now, I'm still going to continue teaching Qoya classes and retreats for women and launching Qoya for kids, but am open to see what other opportunities arise that serve all of our community.

In addition to teaching Qoya at Omega, I also heard an amazing speech last weekend by Dr. Gabor Mate who wrote a book called When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection. He brilliantly spoke about the needs that every child and human have. 1- For love, attachment, relationship and 2- Authenticity, expression of one's true self. He draws a correlation between our immune system and our emotions and thoughts to present his hypothesis that when we suppress our true feelings and our true divine nature, we suppress our immune system as well. With the link of stress being proved to be a main component in illness, he offers the viewpoint that the biggest stress of all- is not being yourself.

Hearing that speech filled me another wave of inspiration and hope to continue to share Qoya. Qoya's gift is an opportunity to fully express who you are through your body. To know the physical sensation of your dreams and your disappointments, of your joy and of your grief, and not to let them be stagnant.  But to learn how to honor them through the prayer of your movement and feel how these events activate your life, how they contribute to your journey- how they are your journey. To me, to dance is the highest spiritual realization. It is not a strong stance for this or that. It is not a hierarchy of one or another. It is not a self-conscious holding back. To dance is to revel in the pulse of life. To dance is to embody the life force that animates all things and in that dance, as your heart starts to beat and the sound of your own heart is louder than the sound of your mind, you remember. You feel your connection to your true self and in that truth, you remember your connection to all things and you remember that we are all in this together and that the only thing that is truly important is love.

To that pulse and to love, Rochelle

P.S. I am teaching the Goddess Altar this week up in Woodstock, New York. Then, I'll be in Minneapoils for the weekend before my birthday, June 8, 9 and 10 doing a Qoya class, workshop and one-day intro to teacher training. Stay tuned for announcements for a possible Qoya teacher training in Denmark in August and Qoya Retreat in Greece in October. Also, we have the dates confirmed for Qoya Retreat to  Costa Rica next year April 6-13, 2013. Looking forward to dancing together!

P.P.S. Have you tried Qoya? Try this hour long free class here! Password: qoya